This story appears in the May 6, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated.
Jason Collins writes:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.
NBA commissioner David Stern said,
"Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”
and Nike, Jason's corporate sponsor, was also supportive,
"Jason (Collins) is a Nike athlete. We are a company committed to diversity and inclusion."It has been a looooong time in coming - happy news! And the last words of this post go to Jason, who wrote in his piece in Sports Illustrated:
Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start. It all comes down to education. I'll sit down with any player who's uneasy about my coming out. Being gay is not a choice. This is the tough road and at times the lonely road. Former players like Tim Hardaway, who said "I hate gay people" (and then became a supporter of gay rights), fuel homophobia. Tim is an adult. He's entitled to his opinion. God bless America. Still, if I'm up against an intolerant player, I'll set a pretty hard pick on him. And then move on.
The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. I'm much happier since coming out to my friends and family. Being genuine and honest makes me happy.
I'm glad I can stop hiding and refocus on my 13th NBA season. I've been running through the Santa Monica Mountains in a 30-pound vest with Shadow, the German shepherd I got from Mike Miller. In the pros, the older you get, the better shape you must be in. Next season a few more eyeballs are likely to be on me. That only motivates me to work harder.
We're cheering you on, Jason!
p.s. - my thanks to Karol for the first of many heads-up about this story!